CNN’s Burnett Admits Her Show Was Wrong to Add ‘Racial’ to Trump Profiling Comments

In the midst of a heated but civil debate on CNN Tuesday night, host Erin Burnett admitted on her eponymous show to Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway that her program should not have aired a chyron on Monday’s show suggesting that Donald Trump was in favor of “racial” profiling. 

Burnett was twice pressed by Conway on why her show made such an editorial error and so Burnett paused the debate to offer an explanation of regret.

“I want to interrupt you there, I want to interrupt you there, because that was a lower third as we call them on our screen. It actually happened during this hour and I want to make it clear the word “racial” should not have been put in quotes,” she explained. 

Building up to that point, Burnett was questioning Conway about why Trump doesn’t follow the lead of Hillary Clinton in having formal press conferences (with Trump’s drought at 55 days on Tuesday) irregardless of Clinton’s 250-plus days of silence on the press conference front. 

In response, Conway pointed out that it’s easy for Clinton to be having press conferences now because, as my colleague Scott Whitlock and I have chronicled, many of her questions are nothing but softballs: 

Well, when Hillary Clinton is in front of the press, she's got the press asking her these — they might as well just ask her, lovely blouse, where did you get it today, Mrs. Clinton? I mean, some of these questions are not journalism. Some of them are just, it's great to see you, do you think this is will hurt Donald Trump because he — I mean, did you see this question from a Bloomberg reporter yesterday? 

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Conway’s first mention of the chyron was initially shot down by Burnett as she continued pushing about when Trump will have a formal press conference again, so Conway invoked the “racial” headline again in talking about how the Trump campaign doesn’t “get fair questions.”

“Just last night, CNN added in the word “racial” that he never mentioned with profiling. Your network added in racial to make it look like he has said “racial profiling” where he never had,” Conway again stated.

Having twice arisen in the span of a few minutes, Burnett finally relented and addressed it (to which Conway said, “thank you”) before going onto offer a defense of the decision:

    I want to interrupt you there, I want to interrupt you there, because that was a lower third as we call them on our screen. It actually happened during this hour and I want to make it clear the word “racial” should not have been put in quotes.  But I want to ask you something about this though, because a lot of other people were happy to describe it as racial profiling without putting quotation marks around it because Donald Trump continually does speak about profiling related to Muslims.

The relevant portions of the transcript from CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront on September 21 can be found below.

CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront
September 20, 2016
7:44 p.m. Eastern

ERIN BURNETT: Trump himself has actually not held a formal press conference in 55 days. The last formal one was on July 27th. Will he do it again? Really start having press conferences? Hillary Clinton, I mean, just to fair at this point is now doing this almost every day. 

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, when Hillary Clinton is in front of the press, she's got the press asking her these — they might as well just ask her, lovely blouse, where did you get it today, Mrs. Clinton? I mean, some of these questions are not journalism. Some of them are just, it's great to see you, do you think this is will hurt Donald Trump because he — I mean, did you see this question from a Bloomberg reporter yesterday? And so, you know, she also gets words like bombing scrubbed from any — you know, I watched CNN all weekend and what are they saying? Donald Trump called it a bomb before it was a bomb. It was a bomb and nobody — and very few people were mentioning from a journalistic point of view that Hillary Clinton also said the bombings or the bombing — but that was scrubbed. CNN added the word “racial” last night.

BURNETT: But again, the question Kellyanne is — is he going to take questions?

CONWAY: Well, sure, he'll take questions but, Erin, we're very — listen, we — Erin, I have to respectfully disagree because Mr. Trump is out there. We have the press pool with us every day. He's in public places at rallies, with voters. Not at fundraisers where the cameras are not allowed like which she does constantly and the press is right there to covering anything and you know what? They really do. A lot of the people who travel with us don't give us a positive tweet. Don't give us positive stories. Are they not there yesterday in Fort Myers where I was with Mr. Trump? There were 10,000 people inside and we had 31,000 RSVPs for a place that only held 8,500 people. I mean, it's just incredible. We don't get these stories from the whole press pool. So, sure, maybe he'll take a question here and there but, you know what? He gives press availability every day by doing these rallies in these swing states where he is every single day and they are there with him. We don't get fair questions. Just last night, CNN added in the word “racial” that he never mentioned with profiling. Your network added in racial to make it look like he has said “racial profiling” where he never had. So, you know — sure, I’m answering questions right now.

BURNETT: I want to interrupt you there, I want to interrupt you there, because that was a lower third as we call them on our screen. It actually happened during this hour and I want to make it clear the word “racial” should not have been put in quotes. 

CONWAY: Thank you. 

BURNETT: But I want to ask you something about this though, because a lot of other people were happy to describe it as racial profiling without putting quotation marks around it because Donald Trump continually does speak about profiling related to Muslims.

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